Gov. Phil Murphy and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan announced Saturday an administrative order mandating the indefinite closure of all municipal, county and state public libraries – in addition to all libraries and computer labs at public and private colleges and universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“New Jersey will continue to be proactive in our approach to identify and enact measures to promote social distancing,” Murphy said in a statement. “While many of these facilities are an important part of the fabric of our communities, it’s critical that we take this opportunity to slow the spread of coronavirus seriously.”
This order comes after a Rutgers labor union demanded the Rutgers administration to close libraries due to COVID-19
Rebecca Givan, vice president of Rutgers labor union AAUP-AFT criticized the Rutgers administration of Rutgers President Dr. Robert Barchi for not closing its libraries until Saturday.
“It is an outrage that the president of the university, a medical doctor, insisted on leaving faculty and staff in an unsafe workplace for so long,” Givan said in a statement. “We worked tirelessly to undo this reckless university decision. Rutgers has many other options for ensuring that students have access to the technology they need to complete their work for the rest of the semester.”
Rutgers University spokeswoman Dory Devlin told NJBIZ on Monday morning that all Rutgers library buildings are closed indefinitely. All library services are now online only. Information on library services and resources can be found here.
Rutgers immediately complied with Callahan’s administrative order and is following the guidance of New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis. Devlin provided a letter from Ellis.
“We recognize that many students rely on campus computer labs and technology centers to complete their work, as they may not have the appropriate technology and/or internet access at home to do so,” Ellis wrote. “Several internet service providers have begun to provide hotspots and free or reduced-price internet service to individuals who may not otherwise be able to afford service. We encourage you to share these resources with your students and provide loaner technology for students who may need to access the internet.”
“If institutions cannot provide remote technology solutions (e.g. laptop rentals) for students and/or students are unable to access the technology needed to complete their coursework, then students should be allowed to complete their coursework at a later date,” the letter continued.